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The Gift, ‘Flip Side’ of Teen Behavior: Charis Denison

The Gift, ‘Flip Side’ of Teen Behavior: Charis Denison

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In this talk, Charis Denison discusses the stereotypes of teenagers, and shows you how they are benefits to our society. Denison is a youth advocate and expert in community involvement, human development, and ethics. She has built her experience primarily by working with schools and nonprofits for the past 21 years. After initially teaching middle and high school English and creative writing, Charis began to develop curricula and publish articles related to social justice, ethics, human development, community involvement, and experiential education. She has received national recognition for her work in those fields as well as for her community-based work with American teens and Tibetan refugees in Central Asia. Charis has taught human development at Marin Academy for nine years. She also runs Prajna Consulting.

 

The need for moral enhancement: Julian Savulescu

The need for moral enhancement: Julian Savulescu

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Julian Savulescu is an australian philosopher and bioethicist. He is Uehiro Professor of Practical Ethics at the University of Oxford, Fellow of St Cross College, Oxford, Director of the Oxford Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics, Sir Louis Matheson Distinguished Visiting Professor at Monash University, and Head of the Melbourne–Oxford Stem Cell Collaboration, which is devoted to examining the ethical implications ofcloning and embryonic stem cell research.

In his talk, Julian shows us that technology advanced rapidly but morality did not. Ethics and religions do not have the answers to the questions nowadays, also because the world – thanks to technology – is a completely different one than it was when moral rules were defined and written down. These rules need to be enhanced.

The end of humanity: Nick Bostrom

The end of humanity: Nick Bostrom

Swedish philosopher Nick Bostrom began thinking of a future full of human enhancement, nanotechnology and cloning long before they became mainstream concerns. Bostrom approaches both the inevitable and the speculative using the tools of philosophy, bioethics and probability.

Nick is Professor in the Faculty of Philosophy at Oxford University and founding Director of the Future of Humanity Institute and of the Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology within the Oxford Martin School. He’s also the co-founder and chair of both the World Transhumanist Association, which advocates the use of technology to extend human capabilities and lifespans, and the Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies.

 

Peter Singer: The why and how of effective altruism

Peter Singer: The why and how of effective altruism

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If you’re lucky enough to live without want, it’s a natural impulse to be altruistic to others. But, asks philosopher Peter Singer, what’s the most effective way to give? He talks through some surprising thought experiments to help you balance emotion and practicality — and make the biggest impact with whatever you can share.

Sometimes controversial, always practical ethicist Peter Singer stirs public debate about morality, from animal welfare to global poverty.

WHY YOU SHOULD LISTEN TO HIM?

Peter Singer may be, as The New Yorker calls him, the planet’s “most influential living philosopher.” The Australian academic specializes in applied ethics, to which he takes a secular, utilitarian approach — minimize suffering, maximize well-being. He gained recognition in the 1970s with his groundbreaking book Animal Liberation: A New Ethics for Our Treatment of Animals, which questions society’s tendency to put human needs above those of members of other species. And he draws fire from critics who object to his fascinating argument in favor of an obligation to help the global poor that sets the bar so high that it means we are almost all living unethically. His defense of euthanasia and infanticide, in some circumstances, has led to protests against his lectures and to teaching position at Princeton.

But Singer’s collective body of work is more acclaimed than controversial. He has written the classic text Practical Ethics and many other books, with more in progress. He lectures at Princeton, where he is professor of bioethics, and the University of Melbourne, where he is a laureate professor. You can find dozens of brief, brilliant essays at Project Syndicate, where Singer examines the philosophical questions surrounding current topics like Obamacare, computer piracy and obesity.

“Singer’s work is challenging, not because his writing is difficult to understand but because it is all too clear. He … has a knack for pushing people out of their moral comfort zone.”  Scientific American, 10/22/12

 

Six Ethics of Life

Six Ethics of Life

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Where are they? Anders Sandberg

Where are they? Anders Sandberg

On the long term, how much change in the universe can a civilization possibly cause? In this talk, Anders Sandberg brings an enthusiastic introduction to the different scenarios of the Fermi paradox and what they mean for the future of humanity.

Anders Sandberg is James Martin Research Fellow at the Future of Humanity Institute at Oxford University, as well as associated with the Oxford Neuroethics Centre, the Uehiro Centre for Practical Ethics and the Programme on the Impacts of Future Technology.

His research centres on societal and ethical issues surrounding human enhancement, new technology and global catastrophic risks. He has a background in computational neuroscience and philosophy.

 

If you realized the power of your thoughts, you would never think a negative thought again

If you realized the power of your thoughts, you would never think a negative thought again

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“The Moral Biography of Wealth: Philosophical Reflections on the Foundation of Philanthropy” by Paul G. Schervish

Click on “The Moral Biography of Wealth: Philosophical Reflections on the Foundation of Philanthropy” to read the article.

Moral biography refers to the way all individuals conscientiously combine two elements in daily life: personal capacity and moral compass. Exploring the moral biography of wealth highlights the philosophical foundations of major gifts by major donors. First, the author provides several examples to elucidate his definition of moral biography. Second, he elaborates the elements of a moral biography. Third, he describes the characteristics that make one’s moral biography a spiritual or religious biography. Fourth, he discusses the distinctive characteristics of a moral biography of wealth. Fifth, he suggests that implementing a process of discernment will enable development professionals to work more productively with donors. The author concludes by placing the notion of a moral biography of wealth in historical context and suggests how advancement professionals can deepen their own moral biography by working to deepen the moral biography of their donors.

 

Legacy and Personal Values

Irrespective of whether we are princes or paupers, we all leave a legacy. As important as it may be, that legacy is less about personal estates, personal accolades, and personal accomplishments than personal values! Legacy is all about behaving in alignment with a personal model of “what good looks like” and handing off its reflection to other people, places and institutions. Legacy is always a reflection of personal values and how those values live in behaviour.

Values are greatly influenced by current and past cultures. For example, we live in an era where personal values typically trump familial, societal, and institutional values. Since values are the prism through which we view the universe, hearing stories of a different time and place where people placed greater value on giving purpose to collective effort than personal goals, it is often difficult for us not to be dismissive or judgmental of the values of past generations. Frequently they just don’t fit with current ideas of “what good looks like”.

I recently came across a story of a Canadian family of a century ago that left a powerful legacy in southern Ontario. As you read the article, you will likely discover that the legacy of those in the story is one of bridges, highways, botanical gardens, and public works. However, you will also discover that their legacy is also about lives of personal sacrifice and giving purpose to collective effort.

It would be easy for us to dismiss the story as an example of values and customs that are out of touch with today’s realities. Maybe they are. However, this way of thinking would miss the point of the article. The article offers us an opportunity to reflect about our personal model of what good looks like against the backdrop of a bygone era.

Remember, our real values live in our behaviour. If you want to do a reality check on your true values, ask yourself what are you willing to fight for; then check your answers against the backdrop of your behaviours. This will likely get you closer to understanding your legacy as it stands right now. Meaningful reflections! – Dr. Bill DeMarco